UCU have described further cuts in higher education as a ‘Christmas kick in the teeth’ for both staff and students.
The union said the cuts were not cost free and would lead to job cuts, larger class sizes and universities contributing less to both the economy and society. In the ‘grant letter’ from business secretary, Lord Mandelson, to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) chairman, Tim Melville-Ross, the government said it was reducing HEFCE’s grant by 6.6%, including additional cuts of £135m to ones previously announced.
For the first time in a decade the unit of public spending per student is being cut in real terms.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The HEFCE grant letter is a real Christmas kick in the teeth for staff and students and final proof that the government has completely lost its way when it comes to higher education. You cannot make these kinds of cuts and expect no consequences. ‘We will see teachers on the dole, students in larger classes and a higher education sector unable to contribute as much to the economy or society. How all that marries up with a government that is pioneering a university sector more reliant on student feedback is beyond me.
Commenting on the section on wider and fairer access to university, Sally Hunt said: ‘We welcome a range of flexible options to encourage people to consider higher education. However, reading between the lines here it sounds like a two-tier university system where the privileged few have the pick of the university park and everyone else has to make do with what they can afford.’
Date: 22nd December 2009